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Evaluating the practitioners

November 14, 2008

Re "A waste of brain power," Nov. 11

Physicians educated in the United States must pass a prescribed course of study and a rigorous examination, and they must complete hospital training. They are then considered competent to offer medical care.

California has chosen to protect its consumers by licensing health professionals. Is the writer suggesting that the state should minimize, simplify or otherwise degrade the licensing process and put our citizens in peril in order to provide work for immigrant doctors?

Foreign-educated physicians are welcome in California if they can pass our examinations and complete hospital training. Otherwise, they should change jobs or return to their native countries to practice.

David B. Sievers MD



This article demonstrates one more way in which state licensing laws for health professionals in California -- and across the country -- limit career entry and access to care.

Instead of precluding the practice of immigrant healthcare professionals with educational requirements they can't afford, why not let facilities that hire health professionals, and are willing to take the risk of liability, determine an appropriate level of employment for immigrant health professionals?

As I discuss in an article published by the Cato Institute, "Medical Licensing: an Obstacle to Affordable, Quality Care," hospitals and other providers of healthcare assess the appropriate level of responsibility for licensed domestic healthcare professionals all the time. We trust them to do that -- why not expand their authority to allow them to assess the appropriate level of responsibility for immigrant professionals?

Shirley Svorny


The writer is a professor of economics at Cal State Northridge.

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